Although an extremely small Catholic college in suburban Chicago, Dominican University continues to demonstrate its passion towards social justice by admitting and many times financing illegal immigrants’ college education. This year alone, the school paid $274,000 in financial aid for 17 undocumented students. Dominican’s President, Donna Carroll says her only regret is not helping more students. Yet although she admits that what they are doing may be controversial, she states, “It’s against the law to discriminate against any student group. You need to start from that premise.”
Dominican is not alone in this venture, several other universities and student groups across the nation are working together to aid undocumented students. At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, a student group raised $10,000 in order to help an undocumented student pay the close to $43,000 bill. The university is also discussing options for scholarships, work study programs as well as increased advising for these students.
At Haverford College, outside of Philadelphia, student groups have requested that the school begin, “fair, need-blind admissions consideration” in order to help undocumented students with admittance. Other nearby schools, such as Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr are also beginning similar initiatives.
One undocumented Bryn Mawr student, Jessica Hyejin Lee, stated, “Our most important goal is to empower and liberate undocumented students, so we can come out of the shadows.” Lee is from South Korea and is the co-founder of Students for Undocumented Dreams and Decision Equity Now.
Yet not every group embraces these programs. Raj Kannappan, the president of Cornell’s College Republicans, states, “There’s going to have to be justification for why that aid can’t go to students who are enrolled legally. There’s a lot of talk about it, but no one’s really doing anything about it because a lot of people would not be in favor.”
Every year close to 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools in the United States according to data found by the College Board. Many still debate whether or not it is just for undocumented students to pay lower in state tuition rates at public universities.
Yet, as undocumented students begin to voice their concerns on the matter, schools are increasingly pressed to make tuition more affordable for everyone. It is clear that word is spreading about what’s happening at Dominican University according to freshman Arianna Salgado, an undocumented student from Mexico who has lived in the United States since the age of 6. “When undocumented students apply to a school it’s because they’ve already heard that it’s welcoming. It makes you really comfortable with the whole application process.”